It is 12 AM and I am back in my hotel. It has been a busy couple of days with me having packed in all the key attractions – a whirl in the Singapore Flyer; an outing to Sentosa Island; the evening laser show at the Marina Bay Sands; souvenir shopping in Chinatown; catching up with old friends, et al.
And so, my touristy appetite has been well fed and taken care of. The silence of the night is suddenly broken by the shrill ringing of the cellphone. “Where are you?” a loud voice wakes me up. “Its Singapore! You must experience it at night. We are going out.” “At midnight?” I croak. “Yes, do not worry, its the safest place in the whole wide world”. “But there is nothing much to see now – I have seen it all” I still argued. “Well trust me, you have not!”.
So I find myself in Clark Quay after a short bus ride. It is truly Barbie-land. The candy-pop lights are twinkling, their reflection in the river even brighter. At a distance, a couple is hurling 60 meters down on a topsy-turvy bungee slingshot, their shrieks reverberating all around. Clark Quay is a bonafide melting pot – with cuisines from all corners of the world to choose from. After much consternation brought about by the choices, we settle down for shawarmas. On weekends, it turns into a crowded party joint for the teeny boppers, enjoying their new found freedom before they graduate into the ‘been there done that’ types.
It is 12:30 AM now, and we decide to walk down to Boat Quay. By now, the streets are completely deserted. As we walk through empty tunnels, I start feeling a tad uneasy. But not a whiff of any trouble. As we walk down along Boat Quay, an interesting collection on bronze statues catch our attention. Three life-size bronze statues depict the erstwhile Singapore River merchants in frenetic negotiations. They represent different nationalities – Scottish, Malay and Chinese. Next to them, there is a life-like imitation of two labourers (an Indian and a Chinese) loading goods onto a bullock cart. A little ahead, a giant sculpture of a very disproportionate bird has been created to symbolize the joy of living. I am still undecided on whether I find it artistically appealing. What I like instantaneously though are sculptures of five children about to jump into the Singapore river. We rest for a bit at Boat Quay, soaking in the skyline, pretty much dominated by tall skyscrapers of the central financial district on one side and the three towers of the Marina Bay Sands and the ferris wheel shaped Singapore Flyer on the other.
At 1:30 AM, we hit the One Raffles Place building, hoping to catch an aerial view of the city. After a Singapore Sling cocktail at the One Altitude rooftop gastrobar, the dizzying 282 metres seem even more intoxicating. We are at the highest point in Singapore and on the horizon, one can see the distant warm lights of Indonesia.
Before wrapping up for the night, one of our motley party wants to check out the red light district – Orchard Towers. I gasp at the mention. But we do end up going there, and while it is quite unnerving to be in a pub full of women (from Vietnam, Thailand et al) offering services for free drinks, it is an experience I will remember for a long long time. Maybe, I will speak about that in another post when I am ready to share that story!